By Joe Henricksen
The conference season is in full force and several league battles will take place this week, highlighted by a Red-South showdown Wednesday night featuring Simeon and Bogan.
These two have engaged in a couple of knockdown, drag-outs the past two years that were both exciting and intense. Simeon pulled away late last season at Bogan, winning 69-60. And two years ago Bogan came into Simeon and pulled out a 52-48 victory over a Wolverines team that eventually went on to win a state championship.
This year even more is on the line. The two are both ranked in the Hoops Report's top five, are tied for the top spot in the Red-South and are also vying for the No. 1 seed in the Argo Sectional.
Here is a quick rundown of all the top matchups this week:
Wednesday, Jan. 25
Marshall at Orr
Ho-hum, another huge battle between ranked teams in the rugged Red-West. Marshall does have a two-game lead but both teams have played extremely well of late and are jockeying for sectional seed position in the Class 3A Glenbard South Sectional.
Friday, Jan. 27
Seton Academy at Brother Rice
While Seton has grabbed plenty of headlines this season and deservedly so, Brother Rice is 5-0 in the Catholic League South and tied with Seton for the top spot.
Mundelein at Warren
Both teams are 4-1 in North Suburban Conference's Lake Division, with Warren already owning a 61-45 December win over Mundelein. Another victory over Mundelein would put coach Chuck Ramsey's Blue Devils in the driver's seat. An interesting battle between defensive-minded Warren guard Jameris Smith and Mundelein's high-scoring Robert Knar, who was held to 11 points in the last meeting.
St. Charles North at Elgin
Fresh off an emotional win last weekend over Huntley, Elgin will take on a St. Charles North team hanging on by a thread in the Upstate Eight Conference's River Division. STC North, led by Quenten Payne and 6-8 Kyle Nelson, desperately needs an upset win to keep its title hopes alive. Elgin's versatile Kory Brown, however, continues to be the difference-maker.
Saturday, Jan. 28
St. Viator at Marian Catholic
It's not Benet or Marist or Niles Notre Dame or St. Pat's in the top spot of the East Suburban Catholic Conference. Nope. It's St. Viator and Marian Catholic tied for the league lead. There is some good, young talent in this one, highlighted by Marian Catholic sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis and St. Viator sophomore Ore Arogundade.
Sunday, Jan. 29
Chops Billinger Shootout at North ParkThere are seven games in this annual shootout but one game stands out: Farragut vs. Seton Academy. Rashaun Stimage and an underrated supporting cast lead Farragut against a deep, balanced and talented Seton team that is a Class 2A state championship contender. In addition, the nightcap features a confrontation between Curie 6-8 sophomore Cliff Alexander, one of the top big men in the country in the Class of 2014, and Leo 6-8 junior Russell Woods.
Prosser vs. St. Benedict @ 10:30 a.m.
Lincoln Park vs. Highland Park @ Noon
Corliss vs. Riverside-Brookfield @ 1:30 p.m.
Foreman vs. Providence St. Mel @ 3:00 p.m.
Von Steuben vs. Wheaton-Warrenville South @ 4:30 p.m.
Farragut vs. Seton Academy @ 6:00 p.m.
Curie vs. Leo @ 7:30 p.m.